Suggestions on budget network conversion

Just a little background. I've been using an Asus RT-AC68U for years with Merlin installed. When I moved to the current house I'm in, there were a few locations that it did not cover well. My father was upgrading his mesh and had some Google WiFi devices he gave me.

I'm currently using the Asus to do most of the more difficult routing with the Google devices doing my WiFi. I'm using 4 nodes right now but it's really more than I need to get the coverage in the house. I really hate the 2 layer set up I currently have because I can't use the Google devices as an extension of the existing network. They have their own network and see the Asus as their ISP.

I recently started messing with OpenWRT on a RPI3 as a travel router for an upcoming trip and love everything about it. It's much more flexible than even the Merlin firmware. I want everything in my house to be running OpenWRT now. Even if it's just being used as a dumb AP/mesh node.

My question is whether an Archer C7 is still a good bet in 2022. My home internet connection is only 30Mb down. I could install OpenWRT on the Asus but will not have WiFi due to the Broadcom wireless. I could still use it for the heavy lifting as it's a 2 core 800MHz CPU while the Archer is only 1 core 750. I could use a couple Archer devices as mesh nodes.

Is there a better option I should be looking for in 2022? Would be great to keep the devices I purchase to ~50USD each.

Is your connection likely to increase in speed in future?

With a 30mb link almost any router will be fine for just standard traffic and a firewall, you would need more cpu grunt for sqm if you need it.

A secondhand ipq4000 powered router would be heaps and they tend to be cheap.

fwiw, be wary of using ipq40xx device for SQM.

I have EA6350v3 (ipq4018) which I used for about 2 months earlier this year.

Testing OpenWrt 19.07 and 21.02, there seems to be a problem with SQM implementation. When I cap the ingress speed to 49 mbps, the speedtest results are not consistent when compared to other OpenWrt routers using Lantiq or MT7621 SoC.

Here is link to a PDF I quickly put together:

If I use NoTengoBattery's build v2.1, the above issue with SQM is fixed.

You could install openwrt onto your Google devices


Possibly. I'm a bit of a cheapskate when it comes to recurring expenses. However, a few companies have been laying fiber in my area in the last year. If they stop hitting gas lines and blowing up houses (yeah, that happened in my town) then faster internet may come down in price. Right now, I only have 1 choice for internet so there's really no incentive to be competitive in pricing right now.

I've never had a router that did SQM so I really don't know what's needed to make this work well. I understand the concept of how it works, though.

I saw that. I'm game to try it but I can't get the thing to power up with a hub that does PD passthrough. I know the hub will do it since I use it with my work laptop on days I work at home all the time but it just won't power up the Google device.

Whoops! Looks like I spoke too soon! I think I may have a device that won't power up over the hub but I have another that will. Gonna give this a go with the 2 extra devices I have to see if I can get a couple mesh nodes out of them!

If you’re not planning to use sqm then the Broadcom device as a wired only router plus the google access points looks like a reasonable solution.

I have an x86 router (hp t620) on a similar bandwidth link but it’s doing variable band width sqm with cake, plus adguard and WireGuard.

Well, I've managed to get it to boot openwrt from USB. Having a few issues getting it to write the image to the Google WiFi device. I'm going to have to mess with it some more but it's looking hopeful. If I can set up a mesh with these, I won't have to buy anything for the time being.

With a 30mbit connection. Your setup should be fine.

You could install openwrt on the Asus too. The WiFi will stop working but the Google devices will be taking care of the WiFi. You can have SQM/adblock etc running on the Asus. Just a thought.

Yeah, this is the plan. Let the Asus do the heavy lifting and just use the Google devices for mesh. I did manage to get openwrt on one of the Google devices. Now, I'm just working on getting Luci on it but have kids to take care of first. Lol!

1 Like

Just an update. I've now installed openwrt and luci on the first google wifi device. I had a few rough patches since I wasn't thinking everything through.

First, I had to transfer the .bin file to my already booted device so I could dd it from there. It did not want to read the file structure on my USB directly so this was the course I took.

Next, I couldn't get a reliable internet connection through the wan port and couldn't figure out why. I didn't think it all the way through that my openwrt had the same that my router has so it kept looping back on itself. Sometimes pings would get through, sometimes not. I changed the IP address in /etc/config/network and now have internet. That allowed me to install luci no problem. I feel like the sky is the limit on this thing now. At least for what I'm going to use it for.

I think I need to apply for a wiki account to document all the extra stuff I had to curate over the last couple days.


You should test the speeds etc and ensure you're happy with them before making the leap. Some devices can have worst performance than stock.

What method should I use to test speed? I haven't turned on WiFi yet but just through the LAN port it seemed pretty responsive once I got the IP address sorted out.

The above is good for checking for buffer bloat. This will let you know that SQM is working correctly.

1 Like